August 7, 2013

"In 2003, the New York Times published a lengthy article by Lisa Belkin about women who were choosing to leave the workforce to be stay-at-home moms: 'The Opt-Out Generation.'"

"In the the last ten years, the article's conclusions regarding upper-middle-class women's choices about work and motherhood have been debated, studied, rediscovered, denied, lamented, and defended"
It's been noted by many that "most mothers have to work to make ends meet but the press writes mostly about the elite few who don’t." Ms. Belkin's piece also never mentioned what what a disaster divorce or the death of a spouse can create for dependent women in such situations. After a decade, the Times is revisiting the topic: "The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In."
A post at Metafilter that contains more links than I copied. Lots of comments there too, comments that you may find more satisfying than the article, which, as many of those comments point out, dwells on the travails of the affluent.


Greg Toombs said...

"...dwells on the travails of the affluent."

The normal outlook of the NY Times.

cubanbob said...

I read the comments. Very interesting. Mostly angry woman who are unhappy with the fact they can't have it all. Life is about choices and sacrifices. Once the choice is made to have kids that choice precludes options for all but a relative few.But not having kids also precludes options as well. Nothing new in what I'm saying- its obvious to all- but from the gist of the comments it really comes to on just how unfair it is. So it all circles back to railing against the human condition which is about as useful as railing against the weather.

Carl said...

This is why it would suck unwashed weasel dick for me to be a woman. This continual need to have your personal choices validated by the vox populi.

Hmm, I think I'd like to cut back at the office and spend more time with the kids, the garden, running guns into Mexico, watching old Bogie films...better check with the New York Times first, though, to see what all the other women think...

Yerch. One of the greatest aspects of the Y chromosome is that I can decide all by my little silly self to quit work, work 100 hours a week, marry a bimbo or a brain, sail around the world in a dinghy or bust my balls trying to make a $million before age 30, and if some, all or any other men think I'm nuts, I care about as much about that as I care whether Barack Obama thinks he could have a son like me, or whether the guy on the next barstool sees me order a Schlitz instead of Dos Equis. Approximately zilch.

Men care a lot about what women think, of course -- all women until you've got one, then just that one -- but strangely enough, women seem to judge us (their men) a lot less shrewishly than they judge each other. Which is a little weird, honestly. Glad I don't have to understand it. Super glad I don't have to live it.

Jason said...

These shitbirds never heard of life insurance?

Big Mike said...

I don't think it's possible for both members of a couple to have a high-powered career. And though I've not worked for Oracle, I've worked with Oracle people enough to know that it's a super high-pressure working environment, so I have some sympathy for the one couple.

I think you can have two people in high-powered careers with no children. They'll be more like allies than a couple and probably they'll eventually drift apart, but this can work.

Or one of the couple can sacrifice his or careerher (yes, it's usually "her" but not always) so that you have two people focusing on one career plus the kids. And that can work.

Or for the sake of the kids both can step off the fast track and still make out well. If I remember my arithmetic, two people making $120K is better than one making $200K, and there will be enough slack in the lower-pressure careers so that the question of who stays home when the nanny is sick doesn't have to be a knock-down fight.

There's no fourth option that I've seen work for any length of time. The few times I've known about where both members of the couple had high-stress, high-pressure jobs, plus the couple had kids, the wife fell apart the first time she heard her kids call the nanny "Mommy."

Big Mike said...

Oh, and what Carl said.

Gabriel Hanna said...

If low income couples "both have to work to make ends meet", how do they afford child-care? My wife and I have jobs that pay a lot more than minimum wage and provide child-care at lower cost and it still costs us as much as a car payment for two days a week.

At $8 per hour, a 40 hour week grosses $1280 per month, it's going to be tough to find 5 days a week of day care for that price.

I think low-income families where both need to work must have one working while the other's at home, otherwise it just doesn't make sense. People do things that don't make sense, but in this case finances would put a stop to it in short order.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

The opposite of opt out would be what? Lean in?

I suspect that no one walks away from a high paid job they enjoy and are good at.

If your spouse wants you to quit your job so the spouse can focus on their career while you tend the family, make your spouse buy life insurance and put up a divorce bond.

Bob Loblaw said...

I think low-income families where both need to work must have one working while the other's at home, otherwise it just doesn't make sense.

Or grandma watches the kids. I think that's pretty common, actually.

But in the absence of grandma, you're probably right. Most low-income couples would be better off with only one wage earner provided they adopted the associated lifestyle: One car (or no cars), home cooked meals, coupon clipping, etc.

And oh yeah, Jason is right. There's no reason to be left destitute upon the death of the wage-earner. Life insurance is dirt cheap when you're young, and as you get older you should have savings.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I actually bothered to read the beginning of the NYT piece (couldn't make it further--it just wasn't that interesting...)

And it seems like the problem in the marriage wasn't that it was 'single wage earner.' It's when the stay-at-home spouse decided to go back to work full-time at a non-profit, and then expected her husband to consider her low-wage 'self-fufillment' job to be as important as his 'support the lifestyle' job when it came to divide up the chores.

I work part-time from home, my husband is the 'real' earner in the house, and we constantly have conversations about whether the money I'm earning is worth the time it takes from kids and chores. (right now, yes. 6 months from now, who knows?)

It seems like she was unwilling to put her need to feel 'fulfilled' by earning a paycheck behind her husband's and kids' needs to have her AROUND.

The funny thing is, if she'd been willing to wait until the kids were in HS or College, she probably could have had the job AND the family life. It's just that short people w/o drivers licenses really DO need a dedicated adult to manage their laundry and their schedules!

Birches said...

I'm continually astonished that anyone (not just women) find so much of their identity and validity as a human being from their job. Definitely NOT how I want to be remembered.

bleh said...

One of the few things in life you can count on is women complaining and second-guessing. Life is full of choices, and most choices, even the best ones, have downsides.

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't understand why a high income family would have continuing conflicts over housekeeping. Hire a housekeeper. Problem solved. If a long simmering conflict can be solved with money, and one has a lot of money, why not solve the problem?